South Sound News

Tacoma students' message to adults: We want to feel safe in school

Students from Tacoma Schools's Science and Math Institute demonstrate in downtown Tacoma in favor of more gun control, February 20, 2018. Peter Haley, The News Tribune

TACOMA, Wash. — The high-school students gathered across from the University of Washington Tacoma campus Tuesday afternoon were determined in their message.

“Safer education for our nation,” they chanted from the sidewalk along Pacific Avenue.

The 35 or so students were largely from Tacoma School of the Arts and the Science and Math Institute. Some of them ditched classes to protest.

One of the organizers, Rita Tumbusch, 15, is a ninth-grader at the institute. She held a sign that read, “We have the right to feel safe.”

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Tumbusch said last week’s mass shooting at a Florida high school that left 17 students and administrators dead has made her feel unsafe. And that, she said, affects her eduction.

“I want to feel safe in my school and I don’t want to worry about if my school is next,” she said. “I don’t want any more people to die from this.”

Behind her, the students chanted, “No more silence, end gun violence.” Several held signs that read, “Am I Next?”

Others held signs that read, “Honk for safe schools.” A steady stream of drivers honked in reply.

Tumbusch said she thinks adults are only partially succeeding in keeping students safe.

“They’re trying to keep us safe, but there’s only so much that they can do with the laws around guns,” she said.

She has a message for the legislators who make those laws.

“I want them to know how serious we are about this,” she said. “We need to change something because this is not OK.”

Nearby, a student thrust her sign in the air.

“Fear has no place in our schools,” it read.